All Change In Leeds

Leeds Liverpool Canal, Leeds c. 1960s (D1-1)

Unloading coal at a wharf in Leeds on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. I must have taken the photograph fifty years ago when the river and canal in Leeds were industrial by-waters. These days they are all plate glass offices and designer restaurants. All Change.

Picture Post 1404 : The Impossible Fire Escape

Shaw Lane Mills, Halifax (B1-4)

Shaw Lane Mills, Halifax : 1980s. The fire escape is like one of those M C Escher Impossible Stairways – you can run but you can never escape. A bit like the local mill for generation after generation of my family.

Sepia Saturday 308 : The Lusty Cloth Dressers Of Halifax

Miriam Fieldhouse with older woman and dog. Circa 1940  (F1-1)
Miriam Fieldhouse with older woman and dog. Circa 1940 (F1-1)

Our Sepia Saturday theme image this week features an illustration from a late Victorian edition of Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe. There are all sorts of directions I could go with this theme. My Great Grandmother, for example, married a chap called J Robinson Thickpenny; but that is another story altogether and best left until after the watershed.

Daniel Defoe himself would be a useful thread to follow, for the man had a considerable affection for Halifax – the little Yorkshire textile town I will always call home. Defoe was a jobbing-writer of the best sort, turning his hand to anything that would put food on the table (if he had been alive now he would probably have published a blog). During his lifetime, other than the famous Robinson Crusoe, his bestselling work was a book entitled “Tour Thro The Whole Island of Great Britain” which was a lengthy Bill Brysonish travelogue in three volumes. During his tour of Yorkshire, he describes Halifax at the dawn of the industrial revolution at some length.


“…and so nearer we came to Halifax, we found the houses thicker and the villages greater…if we knocked at the door of any of the master manufacturers we presently saw a house full of lusty fellows, some at the dye vat, some dressing the cloth, some in the loom. …. those people all full of business; not a beggar, not an idle person to be seen, except here and there an alms-house, where people antient, decrepid, and past labour, might perhaps be found; for it is observable, that the people here, however laborious, generally live to a great age, a certain testimony to the goodness and wholesomness of the country, which is, without doubt, as healthy as any part of England.” (Daniel Defoe, 1726).

But it is a thread nearer the hearts of Sepians everywhere that I have decided to follow – choosing to feature another icon with a dog on the sands in my main photograph. The icon will need no introduction to committed Sepians – it is Auntie Miriam herself, the pin-up girl of Sepia Saturday. I like to think that the elderly lady standing with her is Athena, the Greek Goddess of digital imaging, and that the dog playfully wandering in the background carries the spirit of my own dear Amydog (this is unlikely as Amy disliked the sand with an intensity that matched her love of boiled ham).

So once again, Sepia Saturday takes me on the kind of ridiculous journey which makes life interesting. Far from being deserted, my island is full of characters : my great grandmother and her husband; the lusty cloth dresssers of Halifax, Amydog picking the sand from her paws and, of course, the iconic Auntie Miriam.